Champions League roundup: Bayern beat Barca, Liverpool steal a win over Ajax

Champions League roundup: Bayern beat Barca, Liverpool steal a win over Ajax
Bayern provided heartbreak to former star Lewandowski
Bayern provided heartbreak to former star Lewandowski
Bayern Munich extended their UEFA Champions League (UCL) H2H record against FC Barcelona to five successive wins with a formidable second-half display to muster a 2-0 victory. It is Barça’s first defeat since May, ending their 14 match unbeaten run.

Bayern Munich - Barcelona 2-0

Bayern Munich condemned Barcelona to a first group stage exit since 2000/01 with a 3-0 win at home last season on the final matchday, but with club legend Robert Lewandowski now plying his trade at Barça, it was never going to be easy to overcome the rejuvenated away outfit. It took the visitors less than 10 minutes to establish their grit, as midfield starlet Pedri forced Manuel Neuer into a brilliant save with his left foot. Lewandowski’s return to his previous home almost proved fruitful early on when he sent his volleyed effort inches over the woodwork following a lovely pass by Gavi, before nodding a header right at Neuer from point-blank range.

With Die Roten struggling to etch their mark, perhaps influenced by their meek domestic form, Marcel Sabitzer came agonizingly close to shifting the momentum after the half-hour mark when his dipping shot from outside the box edged past the left post. Despite their last defeat in a UCL home group stage match arriving almost a decade ago – against Manchester City in 2013 – Bayern could certainly count themselves lucky to be heading into the break on level terms, knowing very well that only an inspired second-half display could help them muster a positive result.

Barça, who were on top for a good 50 minutes, were dealt successive blows right after restart. Lucas Hernandez delivered an opportune header following a delightful corner by Joshua Kimmich to put Bayern in the driving seat, before Leroy Sané executed a fine solo run and deft finish to send the Allianz Arena berserk. A mazy run and clever one-two with Lewandowski put Pedri clear on goal on the hour mark, only to see his sleek touch bounce off the post, much to the dismay of coach Xavi Hernández.

Despite pushing back in search of a consolation goal towards the end, the Blaugrana head back to Spain empty-handed. They will be utterly disappointed following a fantastic but goalless first-half display, succumbing to a ninth UCL H2H defeat against an inspired Bayern outfit who extend their unbeaten streak to 25 UCL home group matches – a formidable record, unmatched by another team in Europe.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich)

See stats from the match at Flashscore

FC Porto - Club Brugge 0-4

Porto were eager to atone for their matchday one loss against Atlético Madrid, after conceding a 101st-minute goal. But they quickly continued where they left off in the Spanish capital, and fell behind early in the first home game of their UCL campaign. João Mário’s clumsy challenge in the box caused Ferran Jutglà to take a tumble, and from the resulting penalty, the former Barcelona forward guided the ball into the bottom corner with pinpoint accuracy.

After falling behind in the 15th minute, Porto struggled to establish a foothold in the contest before HT, demonstrated by the fact that Brugge goalkeeper Simon Mignolet was forced into action on just one occasion, coming out on top in a one-on-one duel with Pepê.

That might have been a cue for Brugge to try and weather a storm from Porto after HT, but they were in no mood to do so, and stunned their hosts with a quickfire double in the second half’s early minutes. Kamal Sowah firstly raced through on goal to roll the ball beyond Diogo Costa, for his first strike in a Brugge shirt, before Bjorn Meijer’s dangerous low cross found its way to the back post for the unmarked Andreas Skov Olsen to caress the ball home.

Changes from Porto boss Sérgio Conceição failed to elicit an unlikely fightback, despite forcing Mignolet into a couple of fine saves late on, and Porto’s first home defeat to Belgian opponents in European competition was given further infamy in the final minute with Antonio Nusa slotting the ball past Costa to score on his UCL debut. Maximum points and consecutive clean sheets leave Brugge top of Group B, as they attempt to reach the UCL knockout stages for the very first time.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Ferran Jutglà (Club Brugge)

See stats from the match at Flashscore

Bayer Leverkusen - Atletico Madrid 2-0

Gerardo Seoane arrived into this contest under increasing scrutiny for his job, with Die Werkself beaten in four of their first six Bundesliga games, while also losing to Club Brugge in the UCL. There were certainly positive signs from the first half here though, with the hosts looking the more dangerous going forward despite being met by Atléti’s infamously stubborn rearguard. Piero Hincapié created an early opening after dribbling beyond Nahuel Molina, but his cross intended for Adam Hložek was met by Mario Hermoso - a potentially goal-saving header.

Kerem Demirbay, Roman Andrich, and Moussa Diaby all had efforts for Leverkusen before the break, but there was little sign of anything to really make Diego Simeone sweat in the opposition dugout. The ever-passionate Argentinian was left aggrieved before the break when Edmond Tapsoba appeared to handle the ball inside the area, only for both Michael Oliver and VAR to ignore the visitors’ protestations.

Leverkusen made a fast start after HT and spurned a huge chance to take the lead. Diaby slotted in Patrik Schick, who beat the goalkeeper only to be denied by the bar. On the rebound, Hložek rose highest to head towards goal, but inexplicably failed to score, denied this time by the post.

Simeone turned to his bench in an effort to bring his side into the contest as an attacking threat. One of his substitutes, Rodrigo De Paul, nearly provided the opener with a spectacular curling effort that was tipped over by a sprawling Lukáš Hrádecký. In the end though, Leverkusen would finally get the goal their performance had merited. Jeremie Frimpong’s endeavour earned him space on the right where he pulled back to Robert Andrich, whose first-time finish from the edge of the box proved too good for Ivo Grbić.

Frimpong was too hot to handle as he created the second moments later. Released on the right by Callum Hudson-Odoi, the Dutchman’s low cross presented the ball on a plate for Diaby to tap in. Atléti have now lost each of their last five trips to Germany, in a result that blows Group B wide open behind surprise leaders Brugge.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Jeremie Frimpong (Bayer Leverkusen)

See stats from the match at Flashscore

Liverpool - Ajax 2-1

Liverpool entered this game off the back of their joint-biggest UCL defeat against Napoli, while Ajax were enjoying a run of seven consecutive victories in all competitions, including a 4-0 win over Rangers. After an even opening quarter-hour, the Reds got precisely the boost they needed as Luis Díaz’s flick-on from Alisson’s long ball forward found Diogo Jota, who slipped Mohamed Salah through for the Egyptian to end his four-game goalless streak. Anfield was filled with confidence as Díaz and Jota both came close to adding a quickfire second.

De Godenzonen remained calm, though, and patient build-up saw Daley Blind’s pass down the left wing release Steven Berghuis. The Dutchman then found Mohammed Kudus who smashed an unstoppable rocket in off the underside of the crossbar for his fifth goal in four matches. On Trent Alexander-Arnold’s 50th European appearance, the right-back’s ambitious strike sailed agonisingly over the crossbar, his corner saw Virgil van Dijk’s powerful header denied by Remko Pasveer before the goalkeeper made a double-save to stop the right-back before HT.

In a blistering start to the second period, Jota’s shot was saved seconds after Kudus had a penalty appeal turned down. The hosts continued to look for a way through Ajax’s resolute defence, but Blind’s intelligent intervention prevented Salah from reaching Matip’s header across the face of goal, while Harvey Elliott could only find the side netting from a tight angle soon after.

It felt as though the game was destined for a draw as Darwin Núñez dragged his effort wide and Salah’s effort deflected wide off the post, but Matip’s header just about crossed the line in the 89th minute despite Dušan Tadić’s best efforts to deny him. So, in addition to having lost their opening home game just twice in their last 47 European campaigns, Liverpool have their first UCL win of the season. Meanwhile, Ajax’s run of seven consecutive UCL group stage wins comes to an end.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)

See stats from the match at Flashscore

Marseille - Eintracht Frankfurt 0-1

With the Stade Vélodrome welcoming back Champions League football for the first time since December 2020, an electric atmosphere had Marseille suitably fired up. In the opening minutes, Dimitri Payet teed up Alexis Sánchez inside the penalty area, but the striker lashed his first-time strike into the side netting. That might have set the tone for a one-sided first half, but Frankfurt began to assert themselves after the Olympians’ initial surge and contained their hosts well.

Last season’s UEFA Europa League winners soon got their first major chance, as Randal Kolo Muani showed his threat on the counter-attack, beating two defenders and firing a long-range shot at Pau López. Marseille’s former composure seemed to dissipate from that moment, and Frankfurt took full advantage, with a period of possession eventually seeing a forward pass that Jordan Veretout misjudged, and Jesper Lindstrøm raced into the area and fired under López, giving Frankfurt their maiden UCL goal.

Marseille hoped to rediscover the determination that led to a 2-1 comeback win against Lille in Ligue 1 last time out, but still failed to break down the visitors. Instead, Frankfurt pushed for a second, and Lindstrøm’s volley from a tight angle crashed against the crossbar. Sensing a ninth home UCL defeat in 11 at the Stade Vélodrome, Marseille went forward in desperation for the equaliser and Valentin Rongier’s close-range strike was saved by Kevin Trapp.

With the Olympians opening up in search of an equaliser, Daichi Kamada almost sprung the offside trap and struck past López, only for the goal to be ruled out by VAR for offside. Marseille threw everything at Frankfurt late on, but the Olympians’ unspectacular return to the UCL continued, as Igor Tudor’s side are winless and goalless in their two Group D matches.

In contrast, the good times continue to roll on the road for Oliver Glasner’s Frankfurt, who have won ten of their last 14 away games in Europe, rendering last week’s UCL baptism of fire against Sporting Lisbon nothing more than a foul memory.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Jesper Lindstrøm (Eintracht Frankfurt)

See stats from the match at Flashscore


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